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Fishing Line

The inland statewide trout opener saw surprisingly good fish and fishing conditions, nice catch numbers and respectable water levels.

As the Palm Sunday opener progressed, stream anglers were faced with mixes of rain and snowfall that progressively stained big and smaller streams. Nonetheless, entrants in the Naples Derby and all other inland trout-water sites provided anglers a quality experience to cure mild cases of cabin fever. A detailed account of Naples Derby doings will appear on the Sunday Outdoors Page.

The back-to-somewhat-normal air temperatures this past week put both cold- and warm-water species searches back on a more typical trek. Shore anglers found a good night bullhead bite along bays, ponds and feeder creeks. The bluegill/crappies shoreline surge slowed somewhat, but piers and channels with the right warming water could be hot for calicos and 'gills.

Great Lakes trout runs have perked up for both feeder streams and open-water boaters on Lake Ontario. A more detailed summation of Lake Erie steelhead and other fishery topics will be offered Thursday evening in Hamburg.

> State of Lake Erie seminars

The new Southtowns Walleye Association clubhouse will be the gathering place Thursday evening for an informative State of Lake Erie Meeting.

Helen Domske with NY Sea Grant will host fisheries experts making presentations from 7 to 9 p.m. at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. (formerly Club Lorelei, next to Ballard's Camping Center) in Hamburg.

New York State DEC Lake Erie Unit Leader Don Einhouse will give an update on the status and trends of the Erie fishery; Chuck Murray, Pennsylvania Lake Erie Unit Leader, will discuss the steelhead program; Mike Steeves, with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, will cover lamprey control; and Domske will focus on pharmaceuticals in Lake Erie.

The meeting is free and open to all interested in Lake Erie fisheries concerns. For details and directions, check with Domske at 645-3610 or email:

>Lake Erie

Pick a direction and head out of Cattaraugus Creek. Perch prospectors have been digging in east of the creek and Foxes Point. But this past week the bite has been good either side of the Catt.

From depths off Buffalo and the old steel plant windmills to the cliffs west of Silver Creek, boaters come in with the same magic number for the best numbers of yellow perch -- 57 feet.

Nice schools of both bait and ringbacks have shown at depths of 28, 35 and 45 feet. But the heavy concentrations of boats and good catches seem to be coming from those 52- to 57-foot waters. Tuesday's gentle breezes allowed for 30 or more boats out of the Catt, said Rick Miller at Miller's Bait & Tackle in Irving. Must of the lake access is at Cattaraugus Creek; Sturgeon Point Marina remains closed until dredging is completed.

Stream reports vary. Cooler water and nice stream levels perked up things at the Catt, Eighteen Mile, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks. Some rainbow/steelies have been seen in smaller streams, but the action has slowed.

> Niagara River

The upper river shoreline bite continues strong. Lower river perch have yet to show, but hefty schools of rainbow smelt have moved in and dip netters have seen a good start to the run.

Not every evening is a limit catch of eight quarts per angler, but smelt schools have moved closer to shore and the action sometimes picks up just after dark.

Lower river water temperatures dropped back into the lower 40s -- still warm but slightly above normal for early April runs of assorted fish species. The bass bite quit but lakers and fair numbers of browns continue to cruise the Niagara Bar.

> Lake Ontario

The shoreline is fine for both casters and shallow-water boat trollers. "The steelies and browns are still running up to Burt," said Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott.

Warmer water coming down Eighteen Mile Creek and over Burt Dam had been drawing schools of smallmouth bass and round gobies along with trout. But waters have cooled and the trout run has reheated.

Boaters run in-line side planers (Yellow Birds, Churchills, etc.) at depths of less than 30 feet for a solid mix of browns, steelies and cohos, Walker added.

Rigs connect with either spoons or stickbaits, but the trick is to get as far to the side and away from the trolling motor to draw strikes from trout and salmon often moving in depths of less than 10 feet.

A few king hits and odd catches have been reported, but the salmon has not begun. Water temperatures are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, but the shoreline bite is mainly steelies in the streams and browns along shore.